Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Living in the South 101


**most pictures came from a google image search. I tried to locate their origins but it was next to impossible. I do not take credit for any of the photos.

I think it is time I talk about another type of culture - my culture. I am from the southern United States. Anyone who has ever visited knows, there is NO place like it in America.

For many, many years I hated the fact that I was from the south. HATED it. As a kid, we would spend portions of our summers in Indiana (mid west - where my dad is from) and my cousins would tease me non-stop for my accent, or make fun of some of the "stereotypes" southerners had. You have to remember, when I was a kid, Dukes of Hazzard was a huge TV show. The plot was supposed to take place in a place called Hazzard County (in Georgia.) People assumed we were all a bunch of back woods redneck moon shiners and had a batch of Daisy Mae's running around.

WHICH - that is completely the opposite. However, yes - you will run into a random hardcore redneck from time to time, but that is not the majority of the population.

For my readers in Egypt (and other places around the world) - let me illustrate for you the actual geographic area that the "South" makes up:
Personally, I don't consider Oklahoma, Texas or Florida the "true south." Nor do I think any real southerner would. I see TX & OK as (moving more toward southwest) and Florida is really nothing more than transplants from NY. LOL

You have two divisions here also - North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia VS Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana. (Tennessee is excellent mountain country. Kind of in a class all their own.) The Alabama group is more of the DEEP south. The Georgia group is more of the coastal south. Totally different.

I grew up in Georgia. I now live in Alabama. Yes, I have spent a large amount of time in each state listed. Beautiful part of the country, amazing vacation options, scrumptious food.

There are a few key things you need to know before you head down (and we love to entertain, so please, come down!)                                                       

1. Mind your manners. (The southern phrase.) Oh yes, we can turn very genteel and expect you to do the same. A southerner can turn their nose up at you very quick if you are not completely polite. We expect the kids to say, "Yes, Ma'am. No sir." You must use please and thank you, and if you are a guy - you must be a gentleman.

2. Expect to smile... a lot. Southerners are BIG on the smiles. If you do not smile in return, you are immediately coined as a "not so nice" person. And it's all about being nice down here.

3. You must say hello to everyone. You cannot walk down a street without smiling, and saying hi. I am so serious. In the smallest of towns, people will wave from their cars. You think I am kidding?

4. Here's the one that is hard for some to understand. Southern women LOVE to gossip. Everybody knows everything about everyone. When you come for a visit, everyone is gushing all over you... head to the bathroom, and someone is whispering to the group some tragedy you may be going through (or someone in your family is going through.) When you return to the group, they will throw pity your way and expect you to spill the beans. That's just the way it is.

5. People get married and have babies early. A good southern girl, goes to college, meets a nice boy from a nice family, should be engaged soon after graduation, gets married and buys a house, and starts having at least a few babies. Yep.

6. When invited to some one's home - BRING A GIFT. Flowers, a souvenir from your last trip, just something. Also - always bring food with you. Plus, you better follow up with a thank you card within the week.

7. We don't appreciate it when you tease us about our accents. What you don't realize, to us - you have an accent. You may try to reproduce the southern drawl.. but please know - your nasal screeching is just as distasteful to our ears.

8. Yes.. you are a Yankee if you reside north of the mason dixon line. And yes, you will be reminded of it.. often. No, we do not say northerner. It's Yankee. And it was not the Civil War - it was the War of Northern Aggression.



9. Most southern cities will have a large festival in the spring. These festivals are usually named after a flower, plant, or vegetable. We will claim we are the _____ capital of the world. Just go with it.
10. Civil War reenactments are common. You have to see one to honestly believe it.

11. College Football is king down here. The home grown boys are bred to toss the pigskin around. Pick a team before you visit. Also - make sure it is the team of your hosts.

12. Invest in antacids before you visit with someone for Sunday lunch. Fried chicken will more than likely be on the menu.

13. Yes, we know it is hot. Not only is it hot - but it is humid. THAT'S why we move a little slower.

14. The mosquito is sometimes referred to as the state bird.

15. If someone invites you to church on Sunday - that's a huge compliment. Or they think you are going to hell. Whichever the case, make sure to go. It is a major slap in the face to decline an invitation.

16. Don't be fooled by a southern woman. We smile, we are always polite, and we go out of our way to make sure you are comfortable and happy. But they don't call us Steel Magnolia's for nothing.

17. Do not bring up politics or religion with a southerner. We have very strong opinions - and it can turn ugly - fast.

18. Poverty is alive and well in the deep south. (Usually the southern most cities of the state will have more farm land.) Don't assume someone is a backwoods redneck because they wear overalls, have little teeth, and tattered shoes and an old beat up pick up. Some of these people are simple very, very poor. Yes, they are not educated, and you may not be able to understand them when they talk. But would you put down someone in a poor village in africa or peru? No. So - don't treat these people any different.

19. Some of the finest institutions (colleges and universities) are located in the south. We are very proud of this. Most people you will meet are college educated. Just because we may talk slow - doesn't mean we are stupid.

20. And finally - I am not a slow talking, thich accent, genteel girl. But I know the rules and you better believe, I turn that accent on or off when I need to.

I highly recommend you visit some of our fair cities. I know you are aware of the BIG ones - but here is a list of hidden jewels I highly recommend for your next visit:

1. Savannah, Georgia
2. Jekyll Island, Georgia
3. Helen, Georgia
4. Charleston, SC
5. The Outer Banks, North Carolina
6. Black Mountain, North Carolins
7. Chattanooga, TN
8. Nashville, TN
9. Memphis, TN
10. Atlanta, GA
11. Birmingham, AL
12. Mobile, AL
13. Biloxi, MS
14. New Orleans, LA
15. and sooo many more...

12 comments:

Heather said...

Loooove it!

Southern Style said...

Excellent post my friend. Being from Louisiana, I often find it interesting that TN and NC are considered the South. Even Arizona for that matter, they are more Central than South in my book.

Dawn said...

I LOVE IT !!!!! Excellent :-D

Tennessee Mom said...

One of the regional favorites here is trekking to the Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg, TN area during the fall to "see the leaves change" in the Smoky Mountains.

The Real in Realty said...

If you get a chance, read "CONFEDERATES IN THE ATTIC: DISPATCHES FROM THE UNFINISHED CIVIL WAR" by Tony Horwitz. A great read about the south and parts of its culture.

Amanda Sirmon said...

I love this post! I am a Southern girl transplanted to the "great" state of Texas (where they think they are southern) but there is no substitute for the South! Yes, ma'am! Great post!! BTW--you forgot to mention we call everyone "honey", "darlin'" or "sugar"!! LOL!

Cheeseboy said...

Very interesting post. I have never visited the south, but the people sound very friendly. The smiling and the saying hi and the politeness... all good stuff.

Women in the South may get married and have babies early, but no way does it compare to Utah. The average age of marriage for a woman is 22 (no joke) and the average age she gets pregnant with her first is 22.9.

scrapwordsmom said...

Thanks for your tips. I gotta tell you...I grew up in the Midwest BUT I have always had a Southern Heart. I don't know why...I mean I have only been to a few Southern States...I swear I lived in the South in my past life LOL!

Zack in the Box said...

Went to the South once - travelled through a whole two weeks. NEVER wanna go back. Everyone loves their own home and where they grew up - that's really the only reason you love the South. For an outsider its' the worst place to be. And yea - don' t get me going on the "war of northern aggression"!

RaleighRoxStar said...

I loved this post! I am a recent transplant to the South (I now live just outside of Raleigh, NC). I spent my entire life in the Midwest (Cleveland, OH). It's been quite a cultural difference living in the South, but I love it. I feel like I'm finally home.

Back home I was the weirdo that smiled too much and talked to random strangers. Here I'm expected to. :-)

Anonymous said...

I LOVE it...only i have to dissagree with you on one thing oklahoma is just as southern as georgia,N.C.,S.C,or lousiana, and oklahomans take offense when their called unsouthern

Anna Kaye said...

I've been to 6 out your top 14. I really want to visit charleston, SC this summer.

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